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How a Round Robin Works

A round robin is a group of stitchers who work on each other's projects. This is not complicated and there are a few basic guidelines which should enable you to understand the concept.

Let's say you want to do a four-person round robin (recommended for all first-time robin stitchers). Separate your fabric into four equal stitching areas (maximum of 70 x 70 stitches) and select a theme for your project. You can separate your fabric with a border, with a speciality stitch or with a basting stitch which can be removed when the project is completed.

Themes can be just about anything - a holiday, Christmas, flowers, bears, a color, seasons, etc. Stitch a design in one of the squares.

Then your project is sent on to the next stitcher in the group... that stitcher will stitch a design in one square which will match your theme. And so forth until your project returns home completely stitched.

You, of course, will be stitching on projects belonging to the other stitchers. There is a mailing schedule you must follow...normal stitching time is four weeks between mailing dates, though this is adjusted if international stitchers are included in the robin.

This is a round robin in a nutshell. Robins can go as large as twelve stitchers. Aida and "over two" stitchers are in separate robins. You may send charts with your projects. You may send individual pieces of fabric instead of one large piece of fabric. There are any number of ways you can participate in a robin. Some robins are specialty robins - perhaps just one general theme or a special mailing schedule or one fabric count only.

I would like to say Thank You to Dianne Kindel for providing the above information.

For those of you who are like me and benefit more from a visual demonstration, I have attempted to show this in photos using a 4 person robin.

Step 1 - decide on your theme - I chose quilt blocks for this robin. It is not necessary to stitch your theme on the cloth like I did but I want it to be a part of the finished design.

Step 2 - divide your fabric into equal stitching areas.

Here you can see that I have divided my fabric into 4 equal sections, one for each person in the robin. I did this using 5 full cross stitches on the left side of the cloth where each stitcher is to begin her design. I also made 1 full cross stitch every 10 squares on the cloth to aid the other stitchers in counting. This is not necessary but it can be a help to fellow stitchers. I used half cross stitches to mark off a signature area. On some projects I ask the stitchers to stitch their signature in the block, on others stitchers are asked to sign their name & their design on an index card. I included an alphabet and charts with this project. This is a prefinished bellpull - the pictures are not representive of the size - there is room on it for 4 blocks but in order to show the way I sectioned it off I had to show part of it in both pictures. I stitched the square at the top.

Step 3 - Stitch your square

Step 4 - Write a detailed instruction list on how you want your project stitched. Click here to see mine for this project:

Step 4A - Take a picture and send it to me to put up on the web page (just a suggestion).

Step 5 - On the mailing date (or up to a week before) send it off to the next stitcher on the list

I would like to add the following suggestions:

Please make sure you leave at least a 3 to 4 inch allowance all around the stitching area. I have stitched on more than one robin where there was no allowance for framing and the stitches were one or two squares away from the edge.

Protect the edges of your fabric. I can't stress this enough. I have seen a few robins where the edges were nothing more than strings. Keep in mind the number of people who will be working on your project and take the appropriate steps to prevent your fabric from fraying. Do not use tape if at all possible unless you leave extra room to cut it off. Over time the glue will migrate into the stitching area and ruin your beautiful piece. I can say this from experience, I used masking tape on my first cross stitch project and didn't remove it before finishing it and it is now ruined. I would like to prevent this happening to anyone else.

I have also read many laments about the damage Fray Check has done to projects and can personally say that one of my projects was ruined by it. My suggestions are to either cover your edges with bias binding (available in any Wal-Mart or craft store) using a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. You can of course simply zigzag the edges of your cloth on a sewing machine. Or use a serger to finish the edges. If you do not have a sewing machine you can do a running stitch all the way around the edge by hand.

I would be glad to put the binding on for you or to zigzag the edges. Contact me for details at the email address below.

Communication is the key to a successful robin. It is extremely important to keep in touch with your group leader and the other members of the robin regarding the mailing and receiving of robins. Everyone likes to keep track of where their project is at all times so be sure to email when you are mailing a project and when you receive one. Trust me, it will be appreciated by everyone!

If you have a suggestion regarding this topic, please email me.

I subscribe to a daily email newsletter called "Cool Word" and thought this definition of a round robin was interesting.

A round robin is a sports tournament in which each contestant is matched with every other contestant. It's also a petition in which the signatures are arranged in a circle, like spokes of a wheel, in order to conceal the order of signing. A round robin has nothing to do with red-breasted birds. The name is probably based on the French ruban (ribbon). In the seventeenth century, French monarchs sometimes ordered the death of the first person who signed a petition that displeased the Crown. In order to disguise the order of signing, the names were written on an endless, circular ribbon, and no one could be identified as the instigator of the petition. Later, sailors in the British Navy modified the round robin, using the wheel spoke pattern to hide the order of signing. It was not until the late 1800s that "round robin" was applied to sports tournaments.